An open letter to Secretary Eric Shinseki, the VA and proponents of the SSVF program

Dear Secretary Shinseki,

Greetings. First of all, I respectfully applaud your efforts in coming up with programs designed to somehow make the lives of veterans and their families a little easier. One such program is the SSVF that Ive familiarize myself with. I have even read the program guide because I was eager to know more about it. It was however because of an unfortunate turn of events that made me do so and not because of mere interest.

The mission statement on the VA website is impressive. I really want to convince myself that its true.  In fact that was the main reason I felt confident that our lives were in good hands. After I called the VA hotline, I was thanking the Lord that this could be it. Me and my husband assumed that we have finally found something legitimate to help us in our year long dilemma of finding our own home.

But after 2 months of communicating with one of the SSVF grantees that was recommended to us by VA, I just feel worn out, frustrated, depressed and just stuck in a limbo. Dealing with these people is a nightmare that I dont wish anyone else would experience. It is already enough that we are on the brink of being homeless. It is additionally  nerve wracking to communicate with Program Directors and Case Workers who refuse to answer our questions and really help us.

Why are we being subjected to this kind of treatment when the VA website specifically and proudly claims ” SSVF grants promote housing stability among homeless and at-risk Veterans and their families. The grants can have an immediate impact, helping lift Veterans out of homelessness or providing aid in emergency situations that put Veterans and their families at risk of homelessness. ”

And the VA have this to say about Grantees :

“Grantees provide a range of supportive services to very low-income Veteran families living in or transitioning to permanent housing, including case management, legal assistance, financial counseling, transportation, child care, rent, utilities and other services aimed at preventing homelessness”

It is disheartening to personally experience the real threat that anytime we could be kicked out of our temporary home. I have relayed this information to the organization whose help we sought. We have painstakingly and patiently tried to work with them. But the whole thing seemed more an ordeal than a relief because getting any kind of real assistance from these people is almost remote. They give you the run around, stonewall and worse misinform and lead you blindly. They waste each precious day sitting on our file and wait while we exhaust our limited resources, patience and even sanity before they provide even the basic courtesy to reply to an email.

Ive emailed a Program Director who did not respond to me in 6 days. I sent him a follow up email until he finally replied to me. And on his response, he said he would get back to me either at the end of the day or early the following day as the latest. It is 1pm that Im writing this letter. I have been up since 9 this morning fervently hoping for an answer. As always, I have not received anything   to alleviate my fears.

I dont know what to do anymore. We are about to be evicted and we have tried for almost 3 months to get help from this SSVF grantee but sadly to no avail. We might even lose the apartment we applied for.  The thought of being homeless is emotionally and psychologically taxing.

This message is for you to know that the testimonials of those who are not heard are important too. Because there might even be more of us out there, unfortunately some people may not have the means or time to articulate those thoughts.  Please understand our plight and we humbly ask you speak to those who run this program to carefully evaluate before providing funds to these grantees. It is such a huge waste of taxpayers’ dime if the grant ends up in the wrong hands. If such organizations cannot help people like us who need this financial assistance badly, then they should desist from acquiring funds from the government. These funds could otherwise be of better use to another grantee who sincerely want to help.

Incompetence should not be rewarded otherwise it only perpetuates an ugly cycle that yields nothing but failure.

It is disgraceful that people who have served this country have to endure this kind of treatment. 

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter.

Sincerely yours,

An unfairly treated citizen, her husband and 2 cats.

 

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